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Talk Yourself Into a Championship: Cleveland Cavaliers

Mark Duncan/Associated Press

With free agency almost over, every team is close to finalizing its roster for next year. And this is the part of the year when most team’s fans can talk themselves into a scenario where their favorite team wins the championship. Maybe it’s too hard for fans of the Nuggets and 76ers to imagine their team winning the title, but there are several teams that can look like contenders if you squint hard enough.

Before the season actually comes around and spoils everyone’s fun, let’s take our time to embrace optimism and tell you why your team will win the title. We continue with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers arrived in the Finals last year ahead of schedule. He thought it would take time to build his team into a championship-caliber club, but he overestimated (in his comments prior to the season, at least) the quality of the rest of the Eastern Conference.

That is, after all, the reason the Cavaliers could be the odds-on favorite to win the championship this coming season. Instead of being one of a handful of premier teams in the West, Cleveland is in a class of its own in the Eastern Conference. Every other team has major question marks, while the Cavaliers return a team that made the Finals despite two of its three best players missing a good portion of the playoffs.

Much has been made about Kevin Love‘s problems with Cleveland, but the chemistry issues must have been overblown if he re-signed there. The on-court fit seemed to be working itself out toward the end of the season, and if he can rediscover his top 15 status player, Cleveland might be unstoppable offensively. They were pretty close anyway even without him at the top of his game.

The biggest reason the Cavaliers are the favorites, though? That would be LeBron, of course. James proved in the playoffs once again he was the best player in the world, and he’s likely to stay there for a few years. He may not have the best regular season, as he has to pace himself with all the miles on his legs. But when the playoffs come around, James will assert his dominance once more.

Cleveland’s roster may be front-loaded with stars, but it also has some excellent role players in Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson (assuming he re-signs) and Iman Shumpert. The Cavaliers even added another great catch-and-shoot player in Mo Williams, and Williams can facilitate as well. There’s also a high likelihood that J.R. Smith returns, and while he can be erratic, Smith is dangerous on this team in a complementary role. Top to bottom, no roster in the East can compete.

David Blatt took a lot of flak in his rookie season, but he was an excellent coach in Europe. With a whirlwind of a first season under his belt, Blatt is likely to improve in his second year. He has the benefit of always having a star on the floor and will use that to his advantage to rack up regular season wins. It’s possible the Cavaliers could cruise to a #1 seed in the East and rest the key players down the stretch.

Overall, the Cavaliers are in the best position in the league to win the championship. In a weak conference with the best player in the world, Cleveland is a heavy favorite to return to the Finals. Heck, LeBron has made it there five years in a row. And if the roster stays at or close to full strength, the Cavaliers could claim the first championship in franchise history.

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